By Neto Baptiste
A proposed partnership between the University of the West Indies (UWI) Five Islands Campus, government and the Antigua and Barbuda Swimming Federation (ABSF), could see the national body being granted access to the university’s Olympic-size pool when built.
This was revealed by Minister of Sports, Daryll Matthew, who said the UWI, in short order, will be expanding its newly opened campus to include a number of sporting facilities, one of which is a pool.
“Now is the time for us to sit and have that discussion with the Five Islands Campus management, the board for the university and the campus council to ensure that when we build out that facility and what would happen now if this plan is agreed to by all parties involved and the swimming federation are key because we want to make sure they are happy, is that if the swimming federation decides to host an OECS championships and for the weekend they are hosting the championships they rent the pool or the use of the facility from UWI and government can now come into play and say we will cover the cost of the rent for you,” he said.
President of the swimming federation Dr Derek Marshall, in a recent interview, told Observer media that the body was in talks with government and a number its international partners regarding the possible erecting of an aquatic center here.
Although welcoming the enthusiasm of the swimming federation head, Matthew does not agree with that direction.
“I believe that we are at opposite ends of that spectrum as it relates to the building out of a national facility and by that I mean, much as is the case of all of our other national associations, perhaps save and except for football and to some extent now cricket, national associations simply do not have the resources to maintain these sort of facilities. I don’t know if you have a pool in your home but I certainly don’t have one in mine but I know pools are tremendously expensive to maintain because that water has to be treated daily and if you’re looking at an Olympic size pool, the cost increases exponentially,” the minister said.
Matthew continued that the government is not in a position to maintain a national pool.
“It has been lukewarm and I think there is an interest in the national association having their own facility, but we simply do not have the financial resources for everybody to have their own so there must be some shared resources and I think this is one of those cases. It’s not like you put down a basketball court and leave it and then you send somebody to sweep it up and wash off the floor now and again. A pool requires daily maintenance,” he said.
The ABSF had long utilized the private 25-meter pool located at the former Antigua Athletic Club in Coolidge but recently lost access to the facility due to what is been described as several leaks.
Marshall had said it would cost the federation upwards of $100,000 to repair the pool located at the now Cricket West Indies-owned Coolidge Cricket Ground (CCG).